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Laramie Newspaper and Council Person Named in City’s District Court Complaint

Laramie City Council member Joe Vitale makes a verbal request for the resumé of former Laramie Mayor Jodi Guerin during a council work session last April.  Vitale has been named in a District Court Complaint and Petition filed by the city.   (Trevor T. Trujillo, Townsquare Media)

Laramie City Councilperson Joe Vitale; The Laramie Boomerang and the Boomerang’s publisher, Jerry Raehal, have all been named in a civil complaint for declaratory judgment filed by the City of Laramie in Albany County District Court.

The filing comes after city council person Joe Vitale asked to see city records regarding the hiring of former Laramie mayor, Jodi Guerin, to the position of City Parks and Recreation’s Recreation Division Manager, earlier this year.  Vitale made both written and verbal requests to see Guerin’s resumé, voicing concern that Guerin is not qualified for the position.

“My major concern is that a major part of the responsibilities of that job are to hire, train and supervise for the aquatic program. You cannot hire, train or supervise an aquatic program without experience in aquatics,” Vitale said during an interview with the KOWB News Center last spring. ”To put people at risk because we have an individual who doesn’t meet the qualifications of the job, to me is irresponsible”

In the complaint and petition, the city alleges that Vitale had differences with Guerin during her time as city mayor.  The city further says that they were later informed that local newspaper, The Laramie Boomerang asked Vitale to step aside and allow the Boomerang to take the lead in seeking Guerin’s qualifications for the job.  The city does allega however that neither Vitale nor Attorney Bruce Moats -who is representing Vitale, Raehal and the Boomerang in the case) have ever informed the city that Vitale ever “stepped aside.”

The city claims to have sent “numerous documents” but with redacted information that was removed after being reviewed with legal council.

The city then cited a letter sent by Moats, sent on behalf of his clients, again requesting records involving Guerin’s hiring and threatened to file petition “on August 15th if we do not hear from you that the city has changed course and will provide the information sought.”

The city has claimed the right to deny inspection of some of Guerin’s personnel records since Vitale first requested them, citing Wyoming statute 16-4-203:

Right of inspection; grounds for denial; access of news media; order permitting or restricting disclosure; exceptions:

(d) The custodian shall deny the right of inspection of the following records, unless otherwise provided by law:

(iii) Personnel files except those files shall be available to the duly elected and appointed officials who supervise the work of the person in interest. Applications, performance ratings and scholastic achievement data shall be available only to the person in interest and to the duly elected and appointed officials who supervise his work. Employment contracts, working agreements or other documents setting forth the terms and conditions of employment of public officials and employees are not considered part of a personnel file and shall be available for public inspection.

The city’s complaint and petition seeks a declaration that the documents already provided to both Vitale and the Boomerang are the the only documents on the subject that the city is authorized to produce under Wyoming law.

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